Just to illustrate the absurdity of our modern police state. I was stopped while driving through a toll booth a few weeks ago and the officer claimed I had violated the hands-free cell-phone law. Now I am pretty aware of the legislation that says you cannot speak on your cell phone in my car.
Do you guys know what that means? Well, I assumed that if my phone was on speaker, and in my lap, that I would be in full compliance. I had been talking to my wife as I drove through the toll booth, and slowed down to even allow the trooper to shine his mag lite on me, and he proceeded to give me a ticket for violating the “law.”
Now, I certainly was not in violation of the spirit of the law, and I certainly was posing no additional danger to people than folks who drink coffee, fiddle with their iPod, or even are in deep conversation with someone from their back seat. But it turns out I was in violation of the letter of the law. The “law” states that I must have had the cell phone on speaker, but in the center console. Having it on my seat or lap is inappropriate. (I could also have had an earpiece, but I do not own one).
The “violation” happened in a town where lots of folks, I suspect, are not from that town. It was in Verona, home to the Turning Stone Casino. I had been there to deliver a speech that night. When you have a violation like this and want to appeal it, you must show up in court on a date and time when few human beings from out of town can make it. My date was scheduled for next Tuesday night at 5:30pm. That’s at a time when I need to leave work early to get there. I’d have to travel two hours each way (and pay Thruway tolls) and it is also a time when the trooper who wrote me the ticket would be able to claim overtime pay (coming out of my wallet) for being there to defend himself and his decision. The ADA agreed to let a lesser charge, but this is what is nuts.
Rather than charging me with that moving violation, which would result in points on my license, they ended up allowing to plea down to an “open door” violation. That is a violation I have never committed nor do I know much about. Apparently it is a non-moving violation where you are pulled over on the road and your door is open too long, or something like that. The town of Verona does not give a hoot what I plea to, they get my money either way. But the idea that the “public interest” is being promoted by these sorts of things is absurd. And the idea that I have just plead guilty to a “crime” that I never knew existed, nor have ever committed, in full knowledge of all the parties to this little incident strikes me as more than absurd.